What are the characteristics of the good Manager, according to Homer?

Here we present and analyze an excerpt from Homer’s Iliad which answers to the question of our title.


Rhapsody K, Verses 65-72

Ancient Greek: «αύθι μένειν, μή πως αβροτάξομεν αλλήλοιιν ερχομένω. Πολλαί γάρ ανά στρατόν εισι κέλευθοι. Φθέγγεο δ’ ή κεν ίησθα, καί εγρήγορθαι άνωχθι, πατρόθεν εκ γενεής ονομάζων άνδρα έκαστον, πάντας κυδαίνων. Μηδέ μεγαλίζεο θυμώ, αλλά καί αυτοί περ πονεώμεθα. ώδέ που άμμι Ζεύς επί γιγνομένοισιν ίει κακότητα βαρείαν’. Ώς ειπών απέπεμπεν αδελφεόν εύ επιτείλας»

In English: «stay here, in case we both die going. Because there are many roads inside the army. You must speak wherever you pass from, and command them to hurry, naming their lineage from father, honoring each and every man. And do not think high inside yourself, but we ourselves must struggle, too. Because since we were born Zeus keeps sending us heavy evilness. These he said and send his brother away, after properly commanding him»

Agamemnon here speaks to his brother Menelaos. Homer offers us his opinion about this in the end: ‘properly commanding him’.

So, let us examine what he teaches through this excerpt:

a) It is not proper for both leaders of an army to perish. One of them must at least stand on his feet and command.

b) In order to inspire a soldier, the leader must honor him; each and every one separately, each soldier and his lineage.

c) The leader must not be arrogant, must not have/show pride but friendly temper/spirit towards his soldiers.

d) He must not ask only from the others to struggle and fight, but he, first, must do the same.

All the above, especially b, c, d, apply to every type of leader, commander, manager of people. Let us see how the above translate to a modern vocabulary:

a) The manager must always have a trustworthy person that can be left in his position, replace him equally, if needed. Present or not, he must be sure that the ‘job’ (whatever that is) will be done properly, even in his absence.

b) The manager must have excellent interpersonal relationships with his colleagues. He must care for each and every one separately, showing genuine interest for their worries and problems, and feel happy with their joy.

c) The manager must never show/expose an arrogant and despotic face towards his colleagues.

d) The manager must give the good example first, working more and better than his colleagues. Then, he will have the right to ask for more effort from them, and actually convince them for this.

Isidoros Aggelos

(Note: ‘Manager’ literally means ‘he who leads men’, derived from the latin ‘mens’ and the greek ‘άγω’ meaning ‘lead’)

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